Westminster: thousands attend Mass for migrant workers

 The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, concelebrated a Mass this morning in support of migrants workers at Westminster athedral with the heads of the other two London Catholic dioceses, Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark and Bishop Tom McMahon of Brentwood. The multilingual Mass, attended by around 3,000 worshippers, began with a procession of parishes and faith groups, and included music from Africa and Latin America. Intercessions were read in six different languages - Romanian, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Yoruba and Tamil. In his homily, Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark, noted the complexity of migration in the modern world. "The migration of peoples has always been a feature of human life and is complex. Forced migration and, at its worst, ethnic cleansing, constitute some of the darkest pages of human history and the darkest aspects of modern times. But the movement of peoples can also be a source of great enrichment...The Vatican document Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi speaks of the enhanced experience of catholicity that can be the fruit of different ethnic groups coming together as a result of migration. Certainly we can bear witness to that in our parishes, schools and communities in London. We must thank God for that." Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark referred to the special role that the Catholic Church plays in pastoring to the needs of migrant communities in London and said that Catholic parishes needed to both integrate new ethnic groups into the community and to celebrate ethnic diversity. "In the Church, a key role of ethnic chaplaincies and of Catholic parishes is both to integrate new ethnic groups into the already existing community and also to create space to explore and celebrate ethnic diversity, culturally and liturgically. This is a delicate task and a continuing challenge and opportunity for our dioceses and parishes. A positive way of expressing it is in terms of the sharing of gifts, being generous with what we, the host ation, have received and being receptive to what people from other cultures have to offer us. After all, we already share in the gifts God bestows on the Church." "For this reason," Archbishop Kevin McDonald continued, "the Catholic Church has a unique and distinctive contribution to make to the social cohesion of our society. This is true of our parishes and also very much of our schools. We see all humanity as created in Christ. We seek to strengthen the unity of the Catholic Church. We seek greater unity with all other Christians..we seek to dialogue with members of other religions, trying to identify and explore in a positive way the values we hold in common. And we reach out to all people of good will, and all of this contributes significantly to social cohesion and peace in the world." At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Cormac expressed his hope that migrants in London would feel welcome in the capital and realise the depth of solidarity that Catholics had for them. "Here we are from all over the world, Christians together, saying we are all on the side of migrants. We want all of you to be at home here. I want all of you who are here today to know how much we welcome you, migrants who are worthy of dignity and a place in our country. " Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor also pointed to concrete action being taken by the Catholic Church in London to help migrants. "It is a time not just for words but for deeds. In our own Catholic community we are beginning to do things for migrants. The Sisters of Mercy are opening a home for trafficked women, the Brothers of John of God are opening a house for migrants to help them with English and to find a job." The Mass was followed by a walk from Westminster Cathedral to Trafalgar Square, where London's faith and civic communities took part in a rally in support of the 'Strangers into Citizens' campaign. Strangers into Citizens is calling for a pathway to legal rights for undocumented migrants who have made new lives in the UK. Those taking part in the rally included Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Baroness Shirley Williams; Jack Dromey, Deputy General Secretary, Transport and General Workers Union; Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark; Dr Md Abdul Bari (Muslim Council of Britain); Ibrahim Dogus (Head of the Kurdish Community in the UK). For more information and the full homily texts see: www.rcdow.org.uk/

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